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Woman dies after lifting safety bar and ‘leaping to death’ from 40-foot chairlift at TN theme park

‘A few seconds later, she jumped’: Woman dies after lifting safety bar and ‘leaping to her death’ from 40-foot chairlift at Tennessee theme park, witnesses claim

  • A woman, believed to be in her 20s, died after falling 40 feet off a chairlift at the Anakeesta theme park in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on Thursday evening 
  • First responders were seen standing next to a black body bag that held a woman while guests continued to ride on the chairlift 
  • Witnesses are claiming the woman committed suicide after ‘putting her rail up at the highest part of the ride…a few seconds later she jumped’
  • Police have not released her cause of death, and it is unknown if it was accidental or intentional at this time 
  • The chairlift was last inspected in late-April and is looked at every six months. It was inspected by the state again Friday morning after the fall

A woman died after she ‘jumped’ 40-feet to her death from a chairlift at a Tennessee theme park after she lifted the safety bar and leaped off, witnesses claimed. 

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First responders were seen standing next to a black body bag that held a woman, who has not been identified and is believed to be in her 20s, after she fell from the Anakeesta chairlift in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, on Thursday evening. 

Authorities have not released her cause of death, as it is under investigation, but several witnesses have claimed the woman committed suicide. 

Andrew Berta, who was at the park with his family Thursday evening, said they were next in line to get on the chairlift when an officer came up ‘crying.’ 

‘We talked with the cop after he came up the mountain literally crying. It was a suicide,’ Berta claimed on Facebook. ‘A family who we talked to and a staff member who saw it said the girl put her rail up at the highest part of the ride…a few seconds later she jumped.’ 

Several witnesses on the chairlift confirmed the girl’s safety bar was risen up before her death, but her official cause of death has not been released. 

An unidentified woman, believed to be in her 20s, was seen inside a body bag (pictured) after she fell off a chairlift in Tennessee. Several guests reported they yelled at her to let her know the bar was up, but she did not respond 

The girl dropped from 40 feet (pictured) and several witnesses are claiming she lifted her safety at the highest point and jumped seconds later. Police have not confirmed if it was an accident or suicide

The girl dropped from 40 feet (pictured) and several witnesses are claiming she lifted her safety at the highest point and jumped seconds later. Police have not confirmed if it was an accident or suicide 

The chairlift (pictured) has very little protection outside of a lap bar that can be released

The chairlift (pictured) has very little protection outside of a lap bar that can be released 

The incident happened at the Anakeesta theme park (pictured) in Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The incident happened at the Anakeesta theme park (pictured) in Gatlinburg, Tennessee 

Even after she fell, the theme park – which is located in the mountains and only accessible by bus or chairlift – continued to operate the lift for another 10 to 15 minutes and told guests ‘not [to] look down.’ 

‘You could see the concern on everyone’s face that was getting on,’ witness Jay Deuro, who posted a video of the body bag on Twitter, told WVLT

The chairlift had last been inspected in late-April and deemed safe. Anakeesta has the chairlift inspected every six months and the operating permit was set to expire on August 10. However, the new permit for the lift had already been approved. 

The park has ordered a new inspection of the lift after the fatal fall. The chief elevator inspector from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development performed the inspection this morning. 

The chairlift is closed today, according to Anakeesta’s social media pages, but the park remains open. 

Berta also said the park started using ‘shuttle buses’ that only hold 16 people at a time after the chairlift was shutdown, leaving ‘hundreds of families in the rain waiting…for hours.’ 

He claimed he got in line to leave around 7pm and didn’t get back to his car until 12.15am. 

Andrew Berta, who was at the park with his family, said an officer came up 'crying.' Berta claimed the young woman killed herself, though has not been confirmed by authorities

Andrew Berta, who was at the park with his family, said an officer came up ‘crying.’ Berta claimed the young woman killed herself, though has not been confirmed by authorities

‘There was literally still hundreds of people behind us in line when we left,’ he wrote on Facebook. 

In a statement, the park said ‘our hearts are with the family of the deceased,’ but it couldn’t disclose any further information at this time, due to the investigation. 

The investigation could take up to eight weeks to complete and information will be limited until then, police said. 

DailyMail.com has contacted Anakeesta and the Gatlinburg Police Department for comment. 

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